Fianna Fáil Health Spokesperson Billy Kelleher TD has accused the Health Minister of presiding over the complete disintegration of hospital waiting list system. It comes as figures from the National Treatment Purchase fund reveal that more than 400,000 people are on waiting lists for in- and outpatient appointments.
Deputy Kelleher commented, “These latest waiting list figures are shocking and highlight the massive strain the health service is under. This Government’s complete mismanagement of the health budget has led us to a situation where 405,501 people are now waiting for an outpatient appointment. More than 77,000 are waiting over a year to be seen.
“Massive budget overruns, combined with the Health Minister’s failure to anticipate the need for increased capacity over the winter period has compounded an already dire situation, forcing hospitals to cancel procedures and resulting in waiting lists which are now completely out of control.
“Frontline staff are struggling to cope with the massive backlogs, and the delays have the potential to have a detrimental impact on patient outcomes. Early diagnosis is key to the successful treatment of potentially serious conditions, but patients across the country are being left languishing on waiting lists for more than a year, and in some cases, for over two years. This is completely unacceptable.
“Instead of trying to fix the problem, Minister Leo Varadkar continues to prioritise his personal PR strategy, pushing out target times for waiting lists and presenting it as a major breakthrough. He’s attempting to make a good news story out of the fact that no one will be waiting longer than 18 months for an appointment, when the truth of the matter is the new target time is double the 9 month target that was in place when this Government came into office. It’s a scandal that the number of people waiting more than 12 months for an appointment has rocketed by over 1,500% since the start of last year and is a clear signal that the Minister is failing to take control of the situation.
“Waiting list figures are going in the wrong direction. Despite the Minister’s PR offensive, he has been unable to implement any measures to tackle this ever increasing crisis. Last year he warned things would get worse before they got better. How much worse must they get before an effective plan is put into action?”